Physicist’s Work Sheds New Light on Possible “Fifth Force of Nature”

February 21, 2013 • Article by Caroline Hanna

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This picture depicts the long-range spin-spin interaction (blue wavy lines) in which the spin-sensitive detector on Earth’s surface interacts with geoelectrons (red dots) deep in Earth’s mantle. The arrows on the geoelectrons indicate their spin orientations, opposite that of Earth’s magnetic field lines (white arcs). Illustration: Marc Airhart (University of Texas at Austin) and Steve Jacobsen (Northwestern University).

In a breakthrough for the field of particle physics, Larry Hunter, the Stone Professor of Natural Sciences (Physics), and colleagues at Amherst and The University of Texas at Austin have established new limits on what scientists call “long-range spin-spin interactions” between atomic particles. These interactions have been proposed by theoretical physicists but have not yet been seen. Their observation would constitute the discovery of a “fifth force of nature” (in addition to the four known fundamental forces: gravity, weak, strong and electromagnetic) and would suggest the existence of new particles, beyond those presently described by the Standard Model of particle physics.

Enlightening the Earth

By Rand Richards Cooper ’80

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No single view of the new science center
will disclose its whole shape.

In the Lab

Fighting Obesity by Studying the Brain

Janurary 25, 2011

Obesity is an epidemic that ravages individuals and weighs upon society as well. At Amherst College, John-Paul Baird, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, has spent the last year eight years exploring neural networks and brain chemicals that impact eating behavior. These chemicals, called neuropeptides, influence feelings of hunger and fullness, or satiety. Professor Baird's lab is working to characterize how some of these neuropeptides function in certain areas of the brain to influence food intake. The longer-term goal of basic research such as this is to identify potential therapeutic compounds that could contribute to the treatment of obesity and other eating- and metabolic-related disorders.

In the Lab

Studying Slime Mold Yields Insight into Cellular Behavior

August 19, 2010

It may sound like something out of a Far Side cartoon, but it’s serious science. Amherst College biology professor David Ratner and several of his students have spent this summer examining how Dictyostelium discoideum—a cellular slime mold—behaves. The bigger goal is to explore the research frontiers of gene expression and protein degradation. It all adds up to an intense summer research experience for students and professor alike, as well as insights into how the degradation of proteins influences the division of all cells, whether normal and healthy or mutated and malfunctioning.

In this video, Ratner, along with students Benjamin Garmezy ’11 and Elizabeth “Molly” Scott ’13, discuss their research, the altruistic qualities of the slime mold and the considerable advantages of studying science at a liberal arts college such as Amherst.

Amherst Physicist Jonathan Friedman Receives Cottrell College Science Award

January 15, 2002Director of Media Relations413/542-8417AMHERST, Mass.- Research Corporation has presented Amherst College with a Cottrell College Science Award worth $36, 604 in support of assistant physics professor Jonathan R. Friedman's "Investigation of resonant magnetization tunneling in molecular magnets via transverse-field AC susceptibility" project. Friedman received one of only 20 awards; Amherst College has received two Cottrell Science Awards in the past two years.

Amherst Professor Hilborn to Head National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics

July 31, 2001Director of Media Relations 413/542-8417

Fossil Art on Display at Pratt Museum - Jan. 19 to Apr. 1

January 9, 2001Director of Media Relations413/542-8417 AMHERST, Mass.—Art and science meet in the exhibit of Fossil Art, which opens on Friday, Jan. 19 at the Pratt Museum of Natural History at Amherst College, where it will be on display until April 1. The Pratt Museum is open to the public at no charge, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Goldsby Receives National Science Foundation Grant

February 15, 2001Director of Media Relations

Biochemist Jane S. Richardson To Speak on "Bioinformatics" at Amherst College Feb. 24

February 6, 2003Director of Media Relations413/542-8417

Ecologist David Abram To Speak at Amherst College May 7

April 30, 2003Director of Media Relations413/542-8417AMHERST, Mass.- Philosopher and ecologist David Abram will speak about "Becoming Animal: Language and the Ecology of Sensory Experience" on Wednesday, May 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Stirn Auditorium at Amherst College. A reception and book signing will take place from 3:30 until 5:30 p.m. at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment at 525 South Pleasant Street in Amherst.

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